Predictive analytics, when combined with artificial intelligence, can assist organizations with their risk management, as well as their planning and optimization.
EBPA helps enterprise architecture and technology innovation leaders transform and improve business performance and outcomes, through business and process modeling. This research describes the market, identifies use cases, and highlights some key vendors and their fit with common use scenarios.
Read the report : Market Guide for Enterprise Business Process Analysis
Robotic Process Automation (RPA) tools are being widely adopted across a wide range of enterprises and industries. By executing narrowly defined, repeatable tasks, RPA bots can drive dramatic productivity increases and significant cost reductions. For as little as $10,000 to $15,000 a year to deploy and maintain, a single bot can perform the routine, administrative tasks of five to ten people.
RPA is being applied to a wide range of generic business processes related to Finance and Accounting, such as order management and invoice processing, as well as HR functions such as payroll and pension management. In additon, RPA bots are being deployed for industry-specific tasks such as credit card and loan processing in financial servcies, claims processing in insurance and third-party administration in healthcare.
Somewhat counter-intuitively, RPA is not just for “simple” tasks; indeed, the technology is ideally suited to convoluted workflow processes that are both labor-intensive as well as highly prone to human error. For example, in a large, complex environment, account reconciliation can be a painful undertaking that involves rigorous compliance standards and multiple steps to match and verify numbers and records. When people are in charge, they invariably get sloppy or take shortcuts. Robots, meanwhile, aren’t smart enough to cut corners; instead, they follow the directions they’re given to the letter, ensuring accuracy and compliance.
Benefits notwithstanding, traditional RPA systems have several major drawbacks. For one thing, the bots can’t handle anomalies or learn from experience. If the steps they’ve been instructed to follow don’t align with the reality of the function they’re working on, they can’t devise a solution. Rather, they report the anomaly as an exception that requires human intervention. This results in a productivity gap for shared services operations managing large volumes of unstructured data, because standard bots can’t navigate the nuances involved in, for example, email requests.
Today, self-learning applications are enabling bots to quickly identify a mistake and apply a fix, without requiring a rewrite of the bot’s instructions. When an exception arises, the cognitive tool flags the exception. And when that exception is fixed by a human administrator, the bot captures the fix and applies it going forward. As a result, the tasks of updating and optimizing RPA tools are significantly streamlined. Over time the expertise of these “cognitive bots” can match that of an operation’s top agents.
Natural language processing tools, meanwhile, analyze the context of words and phrases, enabling business users with minimal technical training to interact with RPA systems by using plain English commands. For example, a user from an accounting department can simply type, “I need to create a cost center for the marketing team,” and the robot understands what’s needed and executes the task. If the request is worded differently, such as, “Create a cost center for marketing,” the robot responds.
By simplifying and speeding the process of updating and reconfiguring RPA tools, integrating cognitive capabilities into basic RPA functionality reduces the need for constant intervention and oversight by technical experts. Given the scarcity of that technical talent in today’s market, smart tools can significantly reduce the productivity-sapping bottlenecks that characterize many RPA initiatives.
Optimizing BPO Capabilities
Cognitive-enabled RPA initiatives extend the benefits of automation and drive additional cost savings and increases in productivity. Equally important, by applying smart tools to continually optimize the automation of routine tasks, enterprises can focus their energies on strategic decision-making and on enhancing their shared services and Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) capabilities.
One characteristic of this strategic mindset is the ability to effectively deploy Agile methodologies that leverage collaboration between technology teams and business users – collaboration that is essential to reaping the full benefits of RPA. In addition, enterprises can focus on process optimization and identifying new opportunities to drive intelligent automation. Finally, a mature BPO strategy includes an RPA Center of Excellence (CoE) to enable oversight of the overall automation strategy, prioritize initiatives, manage organizational change and serve as a focal point of innovation.
RPA has had a dramatic impact on the ability of organizations to reduce costs and increase productivity in managing basic business processes. As the integration of RPA and smart tools continues to evolve, smart enterprises will seize the opportunity and leverage these emerging capabilities to fundamentally redefine their approach to managing business processes.
A few years ago, companies used purpose to differentiate. It was an edge over their competition, something that was applauded by consumers. Today, it’s the expectation. Businesses want to not only do well for their companies, they also want to make a difference in the world, and between modern slavery and extreme poverty, the supply chain is the ticket. We’re living in an age where supply chains are becoming more and more complex and what you can’t see can hurt you.
What does purpose actually mean? The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines purpose as “a subject under discussion or an action in course of execution.” The key word here is “discussion.” Purpose is subjective and it’s unique from person to person and business to business. What empowers our own individual purpose though is the power of conversation. Here is where businesses can move the needle.
So why now? What makes purpose not only relevant in today’s world, but critical to success? A Nielsen study reports that about two-thirds of consumers are willing to pay more for products and services from companies who are committed to positive social and environmental impact. Nine in 10 consumers expect companies to not only make a profit, but also operate responsibly to address social and sustainability issues, according to another study by Cone Communications. Additionally, it reports that 84 percent of global consumers said they seek out responsible products whenever possible and they’re willing to pay for the peace of mind in knowing they did so.
But social causes aren’t limited to consumer companies. There are an abundance of ways that companies can do good. Any company. Think about the core of your business and how you can leverage it to serve a higher purpose—one that aligns with the issues that are important to your customers and the industries you serve. Think about cloud and network technologies and how you can leverage big data, machine learning and AI to bring transparency into the supply chain and act with purpose. When it comes right down to it, consumers and businesses alike want to feel that their purchasing decisions are not only beneficial from a fiscal standpoint, but also a personal one. The emotional element that comes with bringing purpose into your brand is deeply powerful and should never be underestimated.
One of the major drivers in businesses adopting a “purpose mission” is the inherent risks that come with not doing so. For example, at each step along the supply chain, businesses are inviting opportunities for inhumane labor conditions and other non-ethical scenarios that pose severe risk to not only their brand’s reputation but also to business growth and talent retention. In today’s world, consumers and employees don’t want to associate with businesses that aren’t able to guarantee a clean and ethical lifecycle for their products.
Businesses want to make a difference. They want to drive ethical behavior across the supply chain, and take on things like supplier diversity, as well as tougher challenges like the elimination of forced labor or the use of minerals that come from conflict zones…and with the help of technology they have the power to do it.
Collectively, companies in the Global 2000 spend an astounding $12 trillion on goods and services annually. And by tying their purchases to purposes, these companies can ensure they provide fair labor practices across their supply chain. They can make opportunities available to minority and women-owned businesses. And they can ensure that no slave labor is being used to make their products.
Companies across all industries are trying to connect these dots. They appreciate that there’s a problem but struggle to identify where and how to solve it simply given the lack of transparency in understanding their own supply chains. This is where networks come into play. Just as social networks allow consumers to share, shop and consume, business networks give companies the power to discover, connect and collaborate across a global network of partners in an open and informed way. That way the learnings of one organization can benefit all. We can all work together to do good and we have a corporate responsibility to do so.
That’s the power of purpose. And it is the greatest power of all. As procurement professionals, it motivates us to innovate and solve complex problems using connected data and transparent multi-tier global supply chains. It enables and empowers us to reimagine and reinvent what is possible. At the end of the day, when you combine the power of purpose with the technology and innovations available, businesses can make more informed decisions. This isn’t just an enormous opportunity, it’s a responsibility.
Supply chain sustainability is a nice idea, but there are a lot of unanswered questions when it comes to the finer details. So, while genuine progress has been made, there are also a lot of businesses whose commitment to a sustainable supply chain is questionable.
When McDonald’s says it wants to start serving “sustainable beef,” this sounds great. The supply chain for meat is one of the biggest causes of climate change, so anything that one of the world’s biggest purchasers of beef can do to make their supply chain more sustainable should be welcomed and applauded.
The issue comes with the self-regulation of McDonald’s “sustainable beef,” as well as the fact that “sustainable beef” is a term that the company has come up with itself. While it is encouraging to see McDonald’s promise to eliminate deforestation from its supply chain, exactly how else McDonald’s beef will be sustainable remains to be seen.
McDonald’s sets benchmarks for many industries, so there is a lot that can be learned from the company’s successes — as well as its failures — with regards to sustainability. In lieu of tough regulation from governments, we need companies to set targets for themselves by which the public and the media can measure them. Striving for “no deforestation in the McDonald’s supply chain by 2020” is a measurable target, but aiming to have “more sustainable beef” is neither specific enough nor truly measurable.
Waste, Wastewater and Pollution
The economics of scale is the principle behind almost every business on the planet, yet its major flaw is waste. When buying in such quantities, the risk of leftover waste increases exponentially. Recycling is an absolute must because the aim shouldn’t be waste reduction; the aim should be zero waste.
Wastewater can be recycled, waste can be recycled and emissions can be reduced to zero…all it takes is imagination and the will to do so. Elon Musk has proven that this is the case. The adventurous entrepreneur has built a solar-powered battery able to give electricity to an entire town in Australia and is also developing electric-powered delivery vehicles. These two inventions could help supply chains the world over to develop zero-emission factories with zero-emission transport. Those two inventions alone could completely cut emissions from a huge chunk of the global supply chain. What’s lacking is the investment and the belief in Musk’s ideas.
This is hardly surprising. Eco-friendly entrepreneurs like Musk have their own version of economics, where the aim isn’t to make as much money as possible but to use his company’s profits to make as much positive impact on the world as possible. It might sound hokey, yet it makes sense that the kind of people ambitious enough to make billions of dollars would also be ambitious enough to commit to such lofty aims.
It’s not just Musk. Entrepreneurs like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg have amassed fortunes while simultaneously attempting to change the world. Of course, this change is not always welcome. As Zuckerberg learned in India, there is a fine line between philanthropy and neo-imperialism.
Things Smaller Businesses Can Do
Away from the machinations of billionaires, what can small to medium businesses do to create more sustainable supply chains? To begin with, it depends on your industry. Reducing carbon emissions might be the aim and there are many ways in which the future of warehousing or the future of shipping could be more sustainable.
However, to run a small business with zero emissions, you need to build the business from scratch, with the idea of zero emissions at the center of what you do. Of course, at some point, you’re going to run into the issue of transport. Without a zero-emission transport system such as the one Musk is developing, you’ll have to resort to whatever you can find.
There are a lot of things that all businesses can do to make supply chains more sustainable…there are a lot of things that governments can do to make supply chains more sustainable…and there are a lot of things that customers can do to influence both groups. What’s more, in some ways, decision-makers at small businesses are also waiting on big businesspeople like Musk to make a sustainable supply chain possible for everyone. In short, the job of supply chain sustainability is everyone’s, meaning everyone has a role to play.